Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina is an anthology of Star Wars short stories in the Legends continuity by various science fiction writers (and edited by Kevin J. Anderson) about everyone in Chalmun's Cantina when Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker were there. Practically every member of the crowd who appeared in the cantina scene is either the focus of a story or featured prominently in one of them, and to a certain extent most of the stories connect together to create a larger narrative. If you want to know why the band was in the cantina, this book will tell you. If you're curious about who that demonic-looking guy or the Wolf Man who appeared for about ten seconds in A New Hope were, this is the book for you. If you want to know why they don't serve your kind in here... Well, you get the idea. Literally everybody has a story behind them, and this book aims to tell them all.
In this respect, the book is similar to Tales of the Bounty Hunters and Tales from Jabba's Palace, which do the same for the line-up of bounty hunters in The Empire Strikes Back and the Hutt's court in Return of the Jedi. It also has a Spiritual Successor in From a Certain Point of View, another collection of short stories from around the time of A New Hope, in the new Star Wars Expanded Universe continuity. Several of the characters from this anthology appear again in that one.
- "We Don't Do Weddings: The Band's Tale," by Kathy Tyers
- "A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale," by Tom Veitch and Martha Veitch
- "Hammertong: The Tale of the 'Tonnika Sisters'," by Timothy Zahn
- "Play It Again, Figrin D'an: The Tale of Muftak and Kabe," by A. C. Crispin
- "The Sand Tender: The Hammerhead's Tale," by Dave Wolverton
- "Be Still My Heart: The Bartender's Tale," by David Bischoff
- "Nightlily: The Lovers' Tale," by Barbara Hambly
- "Empire Blues: The Devaronian's Tale," by Daniel Keys Moran
- "Swap Meet: The Jawa's Tale," by Kevin J. Anderson
- "Trade Wins: The Ranat's Tale," by Rebecca Moesta
- "When the Desert Wind Turns: The Stormtrooper's Tale," by Doug Beason
- "Soup's On: The Pipe Smoker's Tale," by Jennifer Roberson
- "At the Crossroads: The Spacer's Tale," by Jerry Oltion
- "Doctor Death: The Tale of Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba," by Kenneth C. Flint
- "Drawing the Maps of Peace: The Moisture Farmer's Tale," by M. Shayne Bell
- "One Last Night in the Mos Eisley Cantina: The Tale of the Wolfman and the Lamproid," by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Tropes from the Mos Eisley Cantina:
- Actual Pacifist: The Ithorians (hammer-headed guys) turn out to be this, holding to a Rule of Life that even applies to plants—if a plant is killed for food, two seeds of its species must be planted. Momaw Nadon, when he accidentally gets an evil Imperial officer killed, creates two clones of him and raises them as his sons.
- All Take and No Give: H'nemthe sex traditionally takes this to a ghastly extreme.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Anky Fremp, one of Greedo's childhood friends, is a near-human alien with skin as yellow as cheese.
- Ascended Extra: The entire cast, with Han, Luke, and Obi-Wan getting Demoted to Extra.
- Asshole Victim: Feltipern Trevagg is a corrupt revenuer who swindles citizens out of their homes, helps sell people out to the Empire, and was planning to sexually exploit a naïve young tourist. His fate is to be eaten alive by said tourist shortly after they have sex. Should've done some research on their mating customs.
- Beneath the Mask: All those weird creepy creatures you saw at the cantina in Episode IV had their own lives, hobbies, and problems, and now you get to read about them. Some of them seem significantly less weird and creepy as a result.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: At least one example per story. Ossicones that detect vibrations and are the ultimate G-Spot, retractable second set of teeth, proboscis... you name it.
- Bizarre Alien Psychology: A lot of this, too. For example, the bit about the Wolf Man who finds a gigantic leech-boa-constrictor-thing erotic purely for her lethality.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: Gotal have ultra-sensitive headcones that can detect minute vibrations. They can also sense when Jedi are nearby. And some some self-conscious individuals use "selfies" to make them seem bigger.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Devaronians are split between males, who are pure carnivore, and females, who are capable of living off of vegetation. Labria, the viewpoint character, was born with a retractable set of female teeth, and probably would have served as a scout in the pack-hunting days. They also look nothing like each other.
- Brainless Beauty: M'iiyoom Onith (beautiful by her own species' standards that is, and Feltipern Trevagg's; by human standards she's hideous). Trevagg even calls her a "bimbo" at one point.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Labria is the worst spy in Mos Eisley, but when he learns that his favorite band is in town, he pulls off an epic Batman Gambit to arrange for them to play at the cantina. As Wuher says, if Labria put this sort of thinking to anything else, he'd be a very wealthy being.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Het Nkik, a Jawa who's sick of his species being everyone's Chew Toy, buys a blaster and goes after an Imperial patrol after they kill his friend (one of the Jawas who sold R2-D2 and C-3PO to the Larses). His story, written by Kevin J. Anderson, ends with him jumping out of hiding and repeatedly firing at the stormtroopers. The next story, written by Anderson's wife Rebecca Moesta, makes it into a "Shaggy Dog" Story with The Reveal that a Ranat stole his blaster's power pack. And then the story after that goes straight into Shoot the Shaggy Dog when one of the stormtroopers kills Het Nkik for, essentially, being annoying. But at least that's the last straw for Davin Felth, who decides to defect soon after.
- The Butcher: Labria (real name Kardue'sai'Malloc) is a war criminal (and music enthusiast) known as "the Butcher of Montellian Serat" hiding out on Tatooine from bounty hunters. He reappears in the final Tales of the Bounty Hunters story getting captured by Boba Fett, and is delivered to his people, who feed him to their hunting beasts alive as punishment.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The music of the Modal Nodes (the Cantina band) was conceived as an alien interpretation of the music of Benny Goodman. Unfortunately, it gets the in-universe name "jizz".
- Conveniently Timed Distraction: BoShek is about to be captured by local Mos Eisley police when a stormtrooper murders Het Nkik the Jawa and they run off to investigate the hubbub.
- Corrupt Bureaucrat: Feltipern Trevagg is an Imperial tax collector who arranges to cheaply buy homes from people behind on their bills so he can rent them out for profit.
- Defector from Decadence: Imperial Stormtrooper Davin Felth sees what The Empire is really like and vows to become the Reverse Mole.
- Divide and Conquer: In "The Moisture Farmer's Tale", the titular character tries to make peace with the Sand People. He realizes that they will leave moisture farmers' alone if offered some water, and attack them as the farms have been unintentionally encroaching on their land. However, while getting a woman who they had recently kidnapped released, stormtroopers attack the Sand People, destroying that possibility. She then tells him that the Empire wants them all divided with trouble on the planet, as then they won't unite or realize that the Empire is the real enemy. He decides to join the Rebellion over this, and hopes to show the others this is true.
- Embarrassing First Name: Spurch Warhog Goa's first name means "brave bug-catcher."
- Everyone Has Standards: Quite a lot of the viewpoint characters are predictably scummy and villainous, but very few have any respect for the Empire. Even a highly predatory wolf creature has nothing but contempt for its corruption.
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Lady Valarian's wedding, due to half the (uninvited) guests being Jabba the Hutt's henchmen and the casino where it is being held being raided by the Imperials for illegal gambling. All of the major characters except for Valarian's fiancé get away pretty much unscathed, although Wuher does get shot in the nose.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Owen Lars' last words.Owen Lars: I never did care much for the Rebel movement; but now I hope they find every one of you bantha slime and grill your carcasses!
- Fantastic Racism: Wuher despises droids at the start of his story because in his mind they're the only lower thing than he is and thus the only thing he can legitimately hate. He has a change of heart when he realizes droids can be useful. Chalmun the Wookiee, who owns the cantina, doesn't much like them either, but only because they take up space which could go to paying customers.
- The Farmer and the Viper: When they first cross paths, Greedo saves Goa's life. How does Goa repay him? By accepting a murder bounty on him and setting him up against a superior quarry.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Nightlily was selected by her people to travel the galaxy and find a mate outside her culture. There are a couple twists, though: one, based on her picture, she's only really a "babe" by the standards of the other bizarre aliens at the cantina, and two, like a praying mantis she eats her partner after mating.
- HeelFace Turn: Davin Felth, the stormtrooper who says, "Look, sir, droids!", witnesses several Imperial atrocities and decides to become a Reverse Mole for the Rebellion.
- The Heist: In their story, Muftak and Kabe decide to burglarize Jabba's town house (his headquarters whenever he has to do business in Mos Eisley, as opposed to the palace he has in the desert) in order to raise the cash needed to get off Tatooine.
- Humans Are Morons: A definite theme in "The Devaronian's Tale."Labria: What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
Labria: Someone who speaks two languages?
Labria: Someone who speaks one language?
- Interspecies Romance: A fatal version between M'iiyoom Onith and Feltipern Trevagg, and a bittersweet one between Dice Ibegon and Lak Sivrak.
- I'm a Humanitarian:
- Wuher brews the remains of Greedo into an especially strong drink which he hopes will gain him the favor of Jabba the Hutt.
- The only meat that H'nemthe females eat is the flesh of their sexual partners.
- A human thief once broke into Labria's apartment. "Turns out humans don't taste very good."
- Informed Obscenity: Kardue'sai'Malloc takes the pseudonym Labria, which translates roughly to "cold food." It's actually a strong obscenity in his language.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Han Solo, Wuher.
- Karma Houdini: Navik the Red never faces any punishment for the genocide of Greedo's clan.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Think back to the cantina scene in A New Hope. They all have a story here.
- Mad Scientist/Deadly Doctor: Evazan (the "he doesn't like you" guy at the bar) turns out to be a cross between Dr. Frankenstein and Josef Mengele. Luke's lucky Obi-Wan was there.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
- Davin Felth is a loyal Imperial recruit until he finds himself in training for the new AT-AT walkers. During one of his first training simulations he realizes how easily enemy fighters could disable the machine with tow cables, and devises a tactical counter. The officer corp tries to cover up the weakness by transferring him to the stormtroopers and reassigning him to the ass end of nowhere, where he defects. The result is that at Hoth the Rebels know about the weakness and exploit it, while the Imperials are caught completely off guard.
- Felth's first act of defection is to shoot his superior officer in Unfriendly Fire—while said superior officer is lining up a careful shot at Han Solo during the hangar bay gunfight. Reassigning Felth to the stormtroopers just may have saved Solo's life, which allows him to save Luke's life and help win the Battle of Yavin for the Rebels.
- Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Momaw Nadon lures an Imperial lieutenant into an alley and threatens to kill him. Lieutenant Alima laughs ruthlessly and says, "You can't kill me with a blaster set to Stun." Momaw knows he set the blaster to Kill, but fears he may have knocked the setting aside, and looks. Of course, it is set on Kill, but he has lost his chance, and Alima shoots him. (Luckily, his blaster is set on Stun.)
- One-Letter Name: M'iiyoom Onith may be this or it may be coincidence.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Anzati like Dannik Jerriko are pretty close to vampires. They have "fangs" (proboscises that retract into cheek pockets) that they use to drain their victims of "soup" (which isn't blood, but we don't learn exactly what it is, except it's extracted from facial orifices. It appears to be brain fluids or something).
- Out with a Bang: The H'nemthe. Apparently as a result of massive difference in gender ratio (20 males: 1 female), they have evolved the custom of females using their knife-sharp tongues to eviscerate their lovers after sex. Prior to this, virgin females are vegetarians (to ensure that the first flesh they taste is that of their lover) and they sincerely believe this is actually the greatest expression of love between the sexes. Both their appearance and mating rituals bear some resemblance to the Real Life praying mantis.
- Pardon My Klingon: Labria's pseudonym is actually a serious profanity in Devaronian. It literally means "cold food," though it apparently loses something in translation. Labria thinks humans are weird for using religion, sex, and excrement as swear words.
- Picky People Eater: Dannik Jerriko only eats the "soup" (your guess is as good as ours- brain fluid? Life essence?). He prefers it from risk-takers and thrill seekers, possibly because adrenal releases improve the flavor (though he doesn't use those exact words).
- Poor Communication Kills the Corrupt Bureaucrat, ironically thus saving the galaxy from Sidious, IG-88, and the Yuuzhan Vong (in that order).
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Het Nkik tries this. It... doesn't come off.
- Shout-Out: For smuggling some information from one Rebel spy to another, Kabe and Muftak are paid partly in letters of transit, which allow them to leave Tatooine. As they go, Kabe says she's thankful they'll never again have to hear the cantina band's terrible rendition of "The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals," an Expospeak Gag of the title "As Time Goes By." Together with the letters of transit, and the story's title, "Play It Again, Figrin D'an," this is a clear reference to Casablanca.
- Too Dumb to Live: Greedo, for obvious reasons, Trevagg, for trying to court a H'nemthe female and being unaware of a rather vital aspect of their mating rituals.
- Training "Accident": Part of Davin Felth's backstory. He succeeds, but in doing so points out a design flaw in the AT-AT walker, so the colonel shunts him into the stormtrooper corps. Also a Call-Forward to The Empire Strikes Back: the name of the colonel? Maximilian Veers.
- The Uriah Gambit: Greedo's death.
- Wedding Smashers: "We Don't Do Weddings." The Modal Nodes break their rule for a big enough payday, and come to regret it when Jabba's thugs invade the wedding and start a shootout.
- The Wretched Hive of scum and villainy.
- You Have Failed Me: Momaw Nadon fingers his nemesis, Lieutenant Alima, for letting the droids escape on the Millennium Falcon, claiming that Alima had prior knowledge. Nadon is expecting that his testimony will get Alima court-martialed, and is shocked to find that Imperials don't do things that way.Imperial Captain: [to Alima] You know what Lord Vader would do if he were here. [draws and fires]